Teachers are fighting back against years of massive red state budget cuts.
More than two dozen school districts across Kentucky were closed on Friday when teachers refused to show up for work after the Republican legislature rammed through a pension bill without any public debate or analysis Wednesday night.
On Monday, teachers across Oklahoma are threatening to not show up, in order to protest the state’s unmatched lack of spending on education.
Those grassroots moves come after teachers in West Virginia shut down school for nine days, until they finally won a modest wage increases from the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.
Also looming is a possible mass teacher walkout in Arizona, which ranks 43rd in the country in teacher pay. More than 2,000 teachers rallied in Phoenix on Wednesday.
“West Virginia woke us up,” Arizona Educators Association President Joe Thomas told a cheering crowd at a protest this week in Phoenix.
The Republican Party has been waging war on education for years, both in Washington, D.C., and on the state and local level. That incessant budget slashing has led to a state of crisis in lots of red states. And now teachers are fighting back.
The state-run evisceration of school budgets in Oklahoma, for example, has truly been epic over the last decade. Last year, nearly 100 districts in the state closed schools every Friday or Monday because the districts only had enough funds to keep schools open four days a week, instead of five.
Meanwhile, “Schools began this academic year with more than 800 teacher vacancies statewide, and they’re still struggling to hire people because teachers can get much better pay in any of our neighboring states,” according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute.
The state’s Republican governor just recently signed a spending bill to boost school budgets, after the state refused to increase teacher salaries for an entire decades.
It’s not known if that last-minute action is enough to head off a statewide teacher walkout, planned for Monday.